Lara Logan, I Tip My Smack-o-Matic 3000 to You

If you watch only one video today, make it this one:

Some select quotes:

“I did a piece with Navy Seals once. It took me six months of begging, screaming, breaking down walls, crawling on my knees to get that embed. And when I came back with that story, I was told, ‘these guys, you know, one guy in uniform looks like any other guy in a uniform.’ and I’m on high-value target raids, taking down some of the most wanted Taliban fighters and al Qaeda fighters in Afghanistan, and I’m told, ‘well, you know, one Arabic name sounds – unless it’s Osama bin Laden, who cares about, you know, Mullah bin Shag or whatever…'”

“You know, I was asked once, ‘Do you feel responsible for the American public having a – a bad view, a negative view of the war in Iraq?’ And I looked at the reporter and I said, ‘Tell me the last time you saw the body of a dead American soldier. What does that look like? Who in America knows what that looks like? Because I know what that looks like, and I feel responsible for the fact that no one else does.'”

We’ll discuss this later, after our blood pressures have gone down to safe levels. For now, let me just say that Lara Logan is the absolute epitome of what it means to be a journalist.

Sadly enough, so is Jon Stewart. And he’d be the first to admit that he’s just a comedy show host.

Lara Logan, I Tip My Smack-o-Matic 3000 to You

Dear Ken Ham: You Suck Leper Donkey Dick

This requires escalation.

Dear Ken Ham:

You are the boil on the ass of humanity. You’re an infantile fuckwit whose insistence on the truth of fairy tales promotes nothing but ignorance and hate. I’ve known syphillitic penises smarter than you (and this is after the disease has progressed to general paresis). You, sir, suck leper donkey dick, and moreover I believe you swallow.

America has imported some shoddy products, but even the melamine-tainted pet food was of more benefit to this country than you. At least the pets who survived the onslaught retained their brain function and had full tummies. The poison you spew is far more dangerous than any amount of lead-based paint or corrupted cat chow: at least those things are not pushed upon the population under the guise of “religion.” If ever a case could be made for screening and rejecting immigrants based on general stupidity, you would be Exhibit A.

You have infected this country like ebola. Answers in Genesis was foul enough, but at least school children weren’t likely to have their young brains mashed into pious pulp by the rampant fuckwittery there. But you had to open your Creation Museum, the most disgraceful building ever to squat on American soil, in order to indoctrinate innocent children with your Young Earth Creationist crap. For this, sir, you can never be forgiven. There is at present no cure for infections like you, but isolation and containment can still be employed, and I believe the bleach of extra-strong ridicule may be beneficial. Judging from the way you howl when it’s applied, it does appear to have some effect, a fact for which I am grateful.

We should have applied these emergency measures before you got your pestilenial hands all over the Pentagon. This country has already suffered a long and devastating illness imposed by a born-again fucktard with God delusions galore. Our military is already sick with the disease of Christian proselytizing. It hardly needed a psychotic, lame-brained, willfully ignorant, incessant God-botherer such as yourself oozing his way into the highest military circles. But fanatics like you get aroused by others’ pain, don’t you? If your insanity infects the men with the missles and causes a global catastrophe, you’ll believe it’s “God’s plan.” You not only believe the Earth is young, you’d like to see it die that way.

Well, you lackwit, fantasy-prone, bonkers bonehead, I hope that if your supreme idiocy leads the boys with the bombs to make a spectacular mistake, you survive the ensuing fallout. I hope you’re one of the sorry-ass motherfuckers who has to shamefacedly come up with yet more lame excuses as to why Jesus is late.

I’d tell you to get your despicable ass out of my country, but I wouldn’t wish you on the rest of the world. May I just suggest, however, that you take your good news about Jesus to Saudi Arabia? I hear they’re very eager to have Christian missionaries come visit. Put your money where your bloody mouth is, you insane son of a bitch, and try to impose your religion on the infidels. Go on. I double-dog dare you.

But you’d never do that. You’re a pure fucking coward. You can’t even face the evidence of evolution, for fuck’s sake. You’re nothing but a one-bit con man. You’re just a sad little shyster who’s unfortunately found a pool of willing victims, and you’d never do anything half so courageous as actually risk your pathetic life for your faith.

I have things growing in my toilet that are more of a boon to humanity than you. After all, science may someday be able to isolate a new antibiotic from those growths. No such luck with an infestation such as you.

Have I offended you? Good. The offense is mutual. Just ask Answers in Creation, Creation Ministries International, and all of the other Christians you’ve managed to piss off. They’re just as annoyed as the scientists, atheists, and other rational human beings who have had to put up with your rancid stench.

Now fuck off.

Dana Hunter

Dear Ken Ham: You Suck Leper Donkey Dick

Happy Hour Discurso

Today’s opining on the public discourse.

Really fucking unhappy right now. Not only did Congress flush the Fourth Amendment down the loo, they seem hell-bent on shitting away what fragments of sanity they have left:

Just when you thought a Congress could not debase itself any further, having just approved massive funding for the Iraq war and given the corporate criminal accomplices of Bush’s attack on the Bill of Rights a free pass… along comes the mother of all insane resolutions of our time. This is even worse than the notorious Iraq War Resolution. and is likely to pass Congress like a glassful of laxatives.

Resolution 362 in the House (not officially named the “Iran War Resolution”, but nonetheless amounting to nothing less than that)will effectively demand the US to impose a naval blockade of Iran, an act of war.

Please take action this weekend.

Yes, please do. The last fucking thing we need is another fucking unilateral war. This country’s military back is broken as it is, not to mention the ethical, moral, and diplomatic concerns involved. We shouldn’t be provoking a war with Iran to begin with, but to do so when we have two fucking unfinished wars on our plates – that’s beyond insane. I don’t think we even have a word for how batshit crazy that is.

After all, even Bush’s chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff favors diplomacy:

In an interview with National Journal published today, Mullen speaks favorably of directly engaging with Iran, even though he says Iran has not always shown a “propensity” for it:

NJ: Given Iran’s role as a spoiler in the region, and with so much now at stake for the United States, doesn’t it make sense to directly engage with Iran to discern its motives and explore potential accommodations?

MULLEN: I would like to have a healthy dialogue with Iran, but many different administrations over a period of decades have been unable to achieve that. But I do think engagement would offer an opportunity, certainly, to understand each other better. That said, the Iranians have to want to talk too. It can’t just be a desire on our part. And the Iranians haven’t shown much propensity for dialogue.

Mullen isn’t the only administration official who has eschewed Bush’s absolutist rhetoric in favor of a more diplomatic approach.

I’m not entirely hopeful that the voices of reason can drown out the war drums, but it’s past time to try. We have a disaster on our hands now – what we’d have with a third war is catastrophe.

As for Iran not showing much of a propensity for talking with us, who the fuck can blame them? Look at who they’d be talking to. George W. “I’ll see your crazy and raise you a batshit insane” Bush.

Remember a few things in the run-up to this new war. Bush lied to get us in to the last one. He used fear and patriotism to shut down dissent. And too many of us, myself included, simply threw up our hands and didn’t do a goddamned thing.

Not this time. Not another war. Listen:

We need to stop House Resolution 362 in its tracks. Right now.

And to stop or substantially slow the push for war AIPAC needs to disgraced and here’s how you can help.

The key talking point : anti-Jewish attitudes have been on the rise over the past decade, both in the US and worldwide. Sure. And Pastor John Hagee, alleged friend of Jews and Israel and key AIPAC ally, AIPAC’s 2007 star speaker, has helped drive that increase in anti-Jewish hatred.

Is Israel’s well being the point ? Maybe. But good faith efforts towards Mideast Peace clearly are not:

IN 2003, according to this American Prospect story, the Bush Administration chose to spurn an Iranian peace offer that would have given EVERY concession the US and AIPAC now demands from Iran.

Thus, the alleged reasons for the push for a US war with Iran are probably lies. Iran was willing to concede everything – it’s nuclear program, its support for Hamas and Hezzbollah…

Hear that? That’s a call to arms, that is. Don’t believe the lies. Don’t accept another useless war pushed on you by warloving hatemongers. It’s time to stop these sick fucks dead in their tracks.

We couldn’t stop FISA, but we are fucking well not going to bend over and take this.

Let Congress know you won’t tolerate it.

Happy Hour Discurso

Morals Come From Plenty of Places Other Than God

In Summerian mythology, the gods sent a flood to wipe out humanity because humans were too noisy. Enlil didn’t appreciate being kept up at night. Seems it never occurred to him to just ask the silly buggers to keep it down.

I can sympathize. My neighbors threw a party tonight, and it was like pulling teeth to get them to understand that some folks around here don’t appreciate noise after midnight. They got it on the third try. Note to Enlil: you don’t always need a flood.

Now, a Christian might ask me, without God to point the way, what kept this atheist from trooping down there with a shotgun and playing Enlil? Morals, you see, can only come from God, in their worldview. An atheist, having no god, has nothing to keep them moral, or so the muddled thinking goes.

I’ve been reading Hitch’s The Portable Atheist, and there’s some deep philosophical musings in there trying to demonstrate that one can have a solid foundation for morals without God. They all overshoot the mark. They get all hard-core logical and miss the simple truths: empathy and rationality are all you need.

Atheists, you see, have no trouble thinking things through, and seeing it from the other bloke’s perspective.

So here’s what stopped me from ending the noise pollution in the most final way possible:

First, I know the poor buggers were just unwinding after a long week, probably had a few in them, and weren’t really aware of just how much they were irritating the poor bugger above them who was trying to relax after a long, hard day of watching the House sell the Fourth Amendment down the river.

Second, I would greatly appreciate it if my neighbors registered their displeasure at any noise I created with something other than a weapon. A simple “knock it the hell off” will do.

Thirdly, even if it were somehow permissible to end someone’s life over something as petty as excessive noise, there’s the family and friends to think about. I may not love these noisy buggers right now, but someone does, and it would make me feel a right bastard to cause them no end of pain and grief simply because I can’t put up with temporary discomfort.

There are of course ten dozen other reasons I can think of for not offing my neighbors, but I don’t think I need to belabor them. In a civilized society, you don’t go all amoral and start the indiscriminate killing just because you don’t have a god to tell you not to. You leave the other bugger alive because you have empathy, and because you know that society would soon cease to function if everybody had a license to kill.

I’d even go so far as to say that it’s easier to be moral without God. Let’s play a hypothetical game. Let’s say it’s perfectly legal to off your neighbor for disturbing you. Let’s say there’s no law against it. What’s to keep me from trooping downstairs with murderous intent, then?

A Christian might say, “Nothing, if you don’t believe in God.”

To which I say, “Bunk.”

And let me further state this: absent any law forbidding me to murder my neighbor, I’d still have a hard time killing him over a temporary irritation, and indeed a harder time than a Christian might have. You see, I don’t believe there’s life after death. I wouldn’t be able to tell myself, “I’m sending him to a better place anyway.” I’d have nothing to salve my conscience with. What’s the loss of a few hours’ worth of peace and quiet for me, set against the loss of everything for him, forever?

There’s that empathy, again. Because what comes to mind when I think of this is the pain and fear of his last few seconds of life, followed by the pain and grief of his family and friends as they face the rest of their lives knowing there will never be another moment together. Not here, and not hereafter. How could I possibly bring myself to be the cause of that?

God doesn’t have to tell me, “Thou shalt not kill.” My humanity, which evolved as part of this extraordinary brain of ours, tells me that just fine.

I’ll go further: I think that morals arising from us rather than God have greater authority. If we achieve those morals based on common humanity rather than common belief, they’re far more inclusive. I can’t exempt anyone based on ethnicity or creed, you see, because we’re all human. I can’t deny a moral arising from common humanity the way I could deny one coming from the wrong god.

I could go on. There are morals, and then there are mores. Someday, possibly, I’ll discuss the difference between the big, sweeping moral pronouncements (don’t kill each other over petty bullshit) and the morals that are more guidelines than rules (don’t fuck in public). But I think this is enough to get us started. It’s enough to present a simple answer to an inane question: “How can you be moral without God?”

I have empathy and rationality. It’s really all I need.

Morals Come From Plenty of Places Other Than God

Happy Hour Discurso

Today’s opining on the public discourse.

Speaker Pelosi adds insult to injury:

On the very same day that the House Dems passed the new FISA cave, Speaker Nancy Pelosi blasted out a fundraising email this afternoon with this…

As Speaker, I can tell you that we need a Democrat in the White House and a strong Democratic majority in Congress to drive change forward. Our June 30th FEC deadline is vital to our success in November. All eyes will be on Democrats’ fundraising totals as a measure of our party’s unity and strength.I ask that you please help to show our commitment to across-the-board victories this November by making a contribution of $35, $50 or more…

Translation: We just sold your rights up the river, but we’d like you to give us more money anyway.

I’ve already turned Obama down for his craven indifference to the rule of law, you spineless bitch. You can bet I’m not donating to you lot. My contributions will be going to PACs like Blue America, who are working to elect genuine Democrats, thanks ever so much.

What’s-his-guts from the Nation had a good point to make in an ad on Rachel Maddow’s Air America show this afternoon: Obama’s going to have to tack center to win this thing, as all Presidential candidates do. What he needs is a House and Senate packed full of progressives. That’s why I’m so heated on this – it’s not the D after the name that’s getting my support (although I’ll take any D over any R any damned day of the week) – it’s the quality of the Democrat elected that matters most. And this is why I’ll be doing my level best to ensure that the kind of Democrat who gets elected is not the kind of mewling lowlife fuckwit that just pissed on the Constitution. 105 of you need to have your asses handed to you by progressive challengers. You know who you are.

But there’s a wee bit o’ light in the tunnels today. Another Bush lackey is about to get his ass handed to him:

Another week, another DOJ investigation of itself.

The latest, reported this morning by the Washington Post, involves J. Robert Flores, the Administrator at the Department of Justice’s Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, who has been the subject of a recent series of articles by ABC News investigating grants awarded by his office.

Flores is facing a federal criminal investigation for questions arising from “his hiring practices, travel expenses, and personal ties to groups which he gave millions of dollars” the Post reports.

You might remember Flores from a previous Discurso. He’s the sorry son of a bitch who ensured that programs which furthered Bush’s bankrupt social policies got funding – things like faith-based initiatives and abstinence-only organizations – despite those organizations not being recommended by his own staff. That’s on top of using government funds for personal travel expenses and questionable hiring practices, mind you. Once again, a Bush Republican treats the government as his own personal bank.

Some of these fuckers are being held accountable. There’s hope that more will be. Scott McClellan, of all people, is helping make that possible:

Former White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan seemed all too pleased to stop by the House this morning to answer questions about the CIA/Plame leak scandal. It’s unlikely McClellan could annoy his ol’ White House buddies anymore than he already has, but he gave it a shot.

A former spokesman for President Bush on Friday said suspicion still surrounds Vice President Dick Cheney’s office because of unanswered questions about the leaking of a CIA operative’s identity.

Scott McClellan also said he could not rule out that Cheney had ordered his former chief of staff, Lewis “Scooter” Libby, to leak Valerie Plame Wilson’s identity to the press during his testimony before the House Judiciary Committee.

That’s delicious enough, but that wasn’t all he said, not by a longshot (h/t Carpetbagger):

At a hearing on Friday into McClellan’s statements in his new book about the Valerie Plame scandal, Rep. Davis asked McClellan, who has known Rove since his days in Texas politics, whether he would trust Rove in the more informal setting. “Based on my own experience, I could not say that I would,” McClellan said.

Davis further queried whether Rove was capable of lying to protect himself from legal jeopardy. The former aide said of the Plame matter: “He certainly lied to me. That’s the only conclusion that I can draw.” As to whether Rove would lie to shield himself from political embarrassment: “I would have to say that he did in my situation, so the answer is yes.” […]

Furthermore, asked by Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) which members of the Bush administration should come before Congress to testify on the Plame matter, McClellan pointed to Vice President Cheney and unnamed others below him.

“It would be a benefit if they shared everything they know, and it would be a benefit if they did it under oath,” he stated.

On a day with few victories, that was a sweet sound: Scottie himself calling Rove a lying sack of shit, and saying Cheney needs to have his ass hauled before Congress under oath.

Of course, the chances of this actually happening are slim-to-none. Cheney won one of his battles, securing his place as one of the most evil fuckers ever to hold office and a man who truly puts the “vice” back in Vice President:

Vice President Dick Cheney has won his battle to withhold records from the public despite efforts by Congress and other critics who say they should be open to scrutiny.

The Democrats are conceding defeat. The party’s top investigator in the House of Representatives acknowledges that there is nothing more he can do to force the vice president’s hand.

“He has managed to stonewall everyone,” said Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. “I’m not sure there’s anything we can do.”

Waxman said that despite Cheney’s turning this administration into “one of the most secretive in history,” there’s not much he or anyone else can do because the administration has only a few more months left
in office.

Note to Pelosi: thanks a fucking lot for taking impeachment off the table and thus defanging, declawing, and basically neutering the Democratic majority. See what we get from that? The President and VP can effectively moon Congress, not to mention shit all over them, and all they can do is sputter a few protests while they brace for more. And that’s the fighters – too many Dems seem to be coprophagics.

It gets worse:

California petitioned the Environmental Protection Agency for waiver to regulate greenhouse gas emissions more forcefully than the federal government. EPA policy experts agreed that the state qualified for the waivers, but in the 11th hour, EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson, one of the Bush administration’s more humiliating hacks, intervened and denied the California’s request.

Dems on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee have tried for months to learn about whether (and to what extent) the White House was involved with Johnson’s decision to ignore the advice of his staff. And for months, Johnson has stonewalled, delayed, and done everything possible to avoid cooperating with congressional oversight.

This morning, Rep. Henry Waxman was prepared to take things up a notch, and hold Johnson in contempt. He had to back off, however, because the White House used its two favorite words: executive privilege.

That sound you hear is the door slamming on a Dem’s face. And yes, that is maniacal laughter from the Administration in the background. However did you guess?

Waxman responded:

“I don’t think we’ve had a situation like this since Richard Nixon was president. When the President of the United States, may have been involved in acting contrary to law and the evidence that would determine that question for Congress, in exercising our oversight, is being blocked by an assertion of executive privilege. I would hope and expect this administration would not be making this assertion without a valid basis for it, but to date I have not seen a valid instance of their executive privilege.”

No, and you’re not likely to, Rep. Waxman. Nothing this regime has done has been valid.

Which is that tiny ray of hope in the midst of all this gloom, because Waxman sure sounds like he’s going to go after this like a terrier, and there are going to be some fangs snapping some Achilles’ tendons when he finds out Bush & Co. are playing silly buggers. All a terrier needs is one slip, and SNAP. Done.

Go get ’em, Henry.

Happy Hour Discurso

We Lost Our Liberties. What's Next?

Words cannot expressed how pissed I am right now. Infuriated, appalled, shocked, outraged, betrayed, horrified, and howling mad merely scratch the surface. The fucking spineless bastards in our House of Representatives decided today that the Fourth Amendment has to take the back seat when it comes to “security.” Utter fucking bullshit.

What’s worse, Obama turned out to be as spineless as the rest of them. He would have lost my vote if we had a viable alternative. As it is, he’s certainly lost any chance of my funding – unless he has a spectacular change of heart and filibusters this fuckery in the Senate next week. You can read his full “Fuck you” to the nation at Firedoglake.

Carolyn Fredrickson of the ACLU managed to put a small bit of the outrage I feel into words:

“It’s Christmas morning at the White House thanks to this vote. The House just wrapped up some expensive gifts for the administration and their buddies at the phone companies. Watching the House fall to scare tactics and political maneuvering is especially infuriating given the way it stood up to pressure from the president on this same issue just months ago. In March we thought the House leadership had finally grown a backbone by rejecting the Senate’s FISA bill. Now we know they will not stand up for the Constitution.

“No matter how often the opposition calls this bill a ‘compromise,’ it is not a meaningful compromise, except of our constitutional rights. The bill allows for mass, untargeted and unwarranted surveillance of all communications coming in to and out of the United States. The courts’ role is superficial at best, as the government can continue spying on our communications even after the FISA court has objected. Democratic leaders turned what should have been an easy FISA fix into the wholesale giveaway of our Fourth Amendment rights.

“More than two years after the president’s domestic spying was revealed in the pages of the New York Times, Congress’ fury and shock has dissipated to an obedient whimper. After scrambling for years to cover their tracks, the phone companies and the administration are almost there. This immunity provision will effectively destroy Americans’ chance to have their deserved day in court and will kill any possibility of learning the extent of the administration’s lawless actions. The House should be ashamed of itself. The fate of the Fourth Amendment is now in the Senate’s hands. We can only hope senators will show more courage than their colleagues in the House.”

For more information, go to:

The Senate’s only going to show some courage if we force it upon them. Time to start taking action now, my darlings, unless of course you don’t mind having the Constitution used as White House toilet paper.

Contact Obama and let him know he needs to grow a fucking spine. It’s put-up or shut-up time: either he’s an agent of change or he’s business as usual. His leadership on destroying this bill is necessary in order for him to prove himself worthy of the honor of President.

Contact your Senators. Let them know they need to kill this bill.

If your Congresscritter was one of those who stood up against this travesty, thank him or her. If your Congresscritter was one of those who caved, let them know you’re not at all pleased. You can view the rollcall to find out which side of the fence yours fell on here.

Join the fight against the spineless wankers who allowed this monstrosity to be born. The problem with Washington is that there haven’t been clear consequences for this kind of behavior. We now have the ability to spank those who eviscerate our Constitutional rights. Just check out this wonderful ad that will be running soon against Steny Hoyer, sellout extraordinaire:

There’s strikethrough: $250,000 $280,000 more where that came from. There will be a lot more. Any Dem willing to sell out principles for political grandstanding deserves to get thrown out on his or her ear. It’s not enough to have Democrats in office – they must be Democrats who will actually fight for the rule of law and the best interests of the country. Money talks – make them listen to yours.

If you want to do more to get progressive candidates into office, you can contribute here at the Blue America PAC.

We only lose if we stop fighting, my darlings. Don’t quit the field.

We Lost Our Liberties. What's Next?

Time to Tie Up the Phones

The vote to immunize telecoms and eviscerate our civil liberties could come as soon as noon EST today. Time to make some calls. The louder we howl, the more likely it is we’ll get heard.

Need motivation? Try Digby:

Pace Godwin, the idea that it’s a good principle to indemnify corporations from law breaking when its done at the behest of the government is getting close to the definition of fascism — the joining of corporate and government power, beyond the scope of law, in the name of national security. We should not go there.

We really shouldn’t. Here’s another motivator:

The new agreement broadens the authority to spy on people in the U.S. and provides conditional legal immunity to companies that helped the government eavesdrop after the 2001 terrorist attacks, according to congressional aides in both parties.

The deal, if adopted, would bring the spy activities of a controversial National Security Agency surveillance program permanently under the law. That would allow the government, in certain circumstances, to eavesdrop on U.S. citizens without a specific warrant. It would also expand government spy powers to monitor communications between the U.S. and overseas to collect intelligence on topics beyond terrorism. [emphasis added]

Does this shit scare you? It terrifies me. Especially that last bit. Everybody say hello to Big Brother, and remember that in America today, torture is not only condoned, it’s encouraged.

Carpetbagger adds a good sharp jolt:

Shaping the law this way is madness. Proponents are characterizing this as establishing some kind of condition for retroactive immunity — the telecoms aren’t off the hook, the argument goes, because the White House would still need to show that Bush & Co. initiated the illegal surveillance. But given that the White House and the telecoms already have endorsed this “compromise,” it’s pretty safe to assume they know this is a threshold they can meet. If they didn’t have the piece of paper to show to a judge, they wouldn’t have endorsed the deal.

Laura Rozen added: “Doesn’t that actually endorse and extend to private actors the Nixonian view that if the president says it’s legal, it’s legal, regardless of what the law says and the Constitution says? Wouldn’t that set an awful precedent that an administration could get private actors to do whatever they wanted including breaking the law?”

Why, yes. Yes, it would.

Who wants the President to decide which laws to follow? Who wants the President to be able to create all the secret spying programs he wants, without oversight, knowing Congress will roll over and give it a patina of legality later on? Who wants corporations in bed with the White House to this extent? Anybody aside from the extreme right-wing nutjobs?

If you want to put a stop to this, get on the phones:

Call Barack Obama and urge him to make a public statement reiterating his opposition to telco amnesty. His opposition could kill this deal: Phone (202) 224-2854, Fax (202) 228-4260

Call Steny Hoyer and tell him this is a bad deal: Phone (202) 225-4131, Fax (202) 225-4300

Call Nancy Pelosi and urge her to pull the bill from the House schedule: Phone (202) 225-4965, Fax (202) 225-8259

Call your representative and tell them to vote no on the FISA rewrite tomorrow today.

Office of the Speaker: (202) 225-0100. Ask for the Speaker’s comment line.

Call Harry Reid and tell him to develop a backbone: (202) 224-3542

Finger too jittery to stop dialing? Ready to do more?

Here are the Blue Dogs who supported the House’s good FISA bill, the one that did not include amnesty. Call them and ask them to hold tough and vote against this bill tomorrow today:

Rep. Leonard L. Boswell, D-Iowa — Phone: (202) 225-3806, Fax: (202) 225-5608
Rep. Marion Berry, D-Ark. — Phone: (202) 225-4076, Fax: (202) 225-5602
Rep. Mike Ross, D-Ark. — Phone: (202) 225-3772, Fax: (202) 225-1314
Rep. Earl Pomeroy, D-N.D. — Phone: (202) 225-2611, Fax: (202) 226-0893
Rep. Melissa Bean, D-Ill. — Phone: (202) 225-3711, Fax: (202) 225-7830
Rep. John Barrow, D-Ga. — Phone: (202) 225-2823, Fax: (202) 225-3377
Rep. Allen Boyd, D-Fla. — Phone: (202) 225-5235, Fax: (202) 225-5615
Rep. Joe Baca, D-Calif. — Phone: (202) 225-6161, Fax: (202) 225-8671
Rep. John Tanner, D-Tenn. — Phone: (202) 225-4714, Fax: (202) 225-1765
Rep. Jim Matheson, D-Utah — Phone: (202) 225-3011, Fax: (202) 225-5638
Rep. Brad Ellsworth, D-Ind. — Phone: (202) 225-4636, Fax: (202) 225-3284
Rep. Charlie Melancon, D-La. — Phone: (202) 225-4031, Fax: (202) 226-3944
Rep. Dennis Moore, D-Kan. — Phone: (202) 225-2865, Fax: (202) 225-2807
Rep. Zack Space, D-Ohio — Phone: (202) 225-6265, Fax: (202) 225-3394

These are the Blue Dogs who were with the Republicans on the last vote. Tell them it’s never too late to redeem themselves and vote against this bad bill:

Rep. Dan Boren, D-Okla. — Phone: (202) 225-2701, Fax: (202) 225-3038
Rep. Christopher Carney, D-Pa. — Phone: (202) 225-3731, Fax: (202) 225-9594
Rep. Jim Cooper, D-Tenn. — Phone: (202) 225-4311, Fax: (202) 226-1035
Rep. Lincoln Davis, D-Tenn. — Phone: (202) 225-6831, Fax: (202) 226-5172
Rep. Tim Holden, D-Pa. — Phone: (202) 225-5546, Fax: (202) 226-0996
Rep. Heath Shuler, D-N.C. — Phone: (202) 225-6401, Fax: (202) 226-6422

We may not win, my darlings, but it won’t be for lack of fighting.

To the phones!

Update: if you can’t get through to Rep. Hoyer’s office, you can email him here. Let him know that the “compromise” he negotiated is a capitulation!

Time to Tie Up the Phones

Happy Hour Discurso

Today’s opining on the public discourse.

Ain’t nothing happy about this.

CQ reports (sub. req.) that “a final deal has been reached” on FISA and telecom amnesty and “the House is likely to take up the legislation Friday.” I’ve now just read a copy of the final “compromise” bill. It’s even worse than expected. When you read it, it’s actually hard to believe that the Congress is about to make this into our law. Then again, this is the same Congress that abolished habeas corpus with the Military Commissions Act, and legalized George Bush’s warrantless eavesdropping program with the “Protect America Act,” so it shouldn’t be hard to believe at all. Seeing the words in print, though, adds a new dimension to appreciating just how corrupt and repugnant this is:

The provision granting amnesty to lawbreaking telecoms, Title VIII, has the exact Orwellian title it should have: “Protection of Persons Assisting the Government.”

They’ve just released the text of the bill, and they’re set to vote on it tomorrow. 24 hours of “review” to gut the Fourth Amendment, give lawbreaking telecoms a free pass, and eviscerate the rule of law as it’s never been eviscerated before in this country.

This fucking “compromise” bill doesn’t sunset until 2012. The government has five fucking years to listen in on your phone calls, read your emails, and play spy with the telecoms, before we can reestablish civil liberties.

Do you want to know how outrageous this is? The fact that the Republicons and Bush Regime are gloating and overjoyed should give you a clue:

With some AT&T and other telecommunications companies now facing some 40 lawsuits over their reported participation in the wiretapping program, Republican leaders described this narrow court review on the immunity question as a mere “formality.”

“The lawsuits will be dismissed,” Representative Roy Blunt of Missouri, the No. 2 Republican in the House, predicted with confidence.

The proposal — particularly the immunity provision — represents a major victory for the White House after months of dispute. “I think the White House got a better deal than they even they had hoped to get,” said Senator Christopher Bond, the Missouri Republican who led the negotiations.

The White House immediately endorsed the proposal, which is likely to be voted on in the House on Friday and in the Senate next week.

In a House and Senate controlled by Democrats, the best they could do was give the White House “a better deal than they even they had hoped to get.” Outfuckingstanding. Way to run the country.

Obama’s too busy supposedly reading the damned thing to comment on it. If he doesn’t get his ass off the campaign trail and back up to D.C. to shoot this thing down, he’s going to have issues. Serious. Issues. He needs to stand up and be a leader on this. If he doesn’t, he deserves to be raked over the coals. So call him and let him know.

You may wonder why I’m so incensed over this. Let’s let Carolyn Fredrickson of the ACLU enlighten you a bit:

“This bill allows for mass and untargeted surveillance of Americans’ communications. The court review is mere window-dressing – all the court would look at is the procedures for the year-long dragnet and not at the who, what and why of the spying. Even this superficial court review has a gaping loophole – ‘exigent’ circumstances can short cut even this perfunctory oversight since any delay in the onset of spying meets the test and by definition going to the court would cause at least a minimal pause. Worse yet, if the court denies an order for any reason, the government is allowed to continue surveillance throughout the appeals process, thereby rendering the role of the judiciary meaningless. In the end, there is no one to answer to; a court review without power is no court review at all.” [emphasis added]

Senator Russ Feingold finds it disgusting:

“The proposed FISA deal is not a compromise; it is a capitulation. The House and Senate should not be taking up this bill, which effectively guarantees immunity for telecom companies alleged to have participated in the President’s illegal program, and which fails to protect the
privacy of law-abiding Americans at home. Allowing courts to review the question of immunity is meaningless when the same legislation essentially requires the court to grant immunity. And under this bill, the government can still sweep up and keep the international communications of innocent Americans in the U.S. with no connection to suspected terrorists, with very few safeguards to protect against abuse of this power. Instead of cutting bad deals on both FISA and funding for the war in Iraq, Democrats should be standing up to the flawed and dangerous policies of this administration.”

Yes, Democrats should. They aren’t.

So here’s what you do if you want to protect your civil liberties and see the people who raped the law for eight years get exposed for the serial rapists they are. Call Obama and tell him to stop this thing. Call your senators and your congressman. Sign the petition. Donate to the PAC that will be holding capitulators accountable.

Get angry and then get busy.

Happy Hour Discurso

Call Obama

Just as I’m getting ready to drag myself and my cramps back to bed for a couple hours’ worth of sleep, I get hit with this:

Obama, telecoms and the Beltway system

As noted yesterday, Blue Dog Rep. John Barrow of Georgia has been one of the most enthusiastic enablers of the radical and lawless policies of the Bush administration. When running for re-election, he ran ads accusing his own party of wanting to “cut and run in Iraq,” and was one of the 21 Blue Dogs to send a letter to Nancy Pelosi demanding that they be allowed to vote for the Rockefeller/Cheney Senate bill to give warrantless eavesdropping powers to the President and amnesty to lawbreaking telecoms.

As a result of all of that, Barrow faces a serious primary challenge in July from State Senator Regina Thomas, who decided to run against Barrow due to — as she told Howie Klein when she announced — “Barrow’s failure to support his constituents against the encroachments of powerful Big Business interests.” As Klein noted yesterday, Thomas’ positions on both foreign and domestic policy are firmly in line with Barack Obama’s views and with the Democratic base in that district, while Barrow has continuously supported the most extremist Bush policies, as he himself proudly boasts.


Despite all of this, The Atlanta Constitution-Journal reported yesterday that Barack Obama — who has been claiming to be so emphatically opposed to warrantless eavesdropping and telecom amnesty, to say nothing of the Iraq War — taped a radio endorsement this week for Rep. Barrow, with the specific intent to help him defeat Regina Thomas in the Democratic primary (h/t sysprog):

Obama cuts an ad to help John Barrow in his primary fight

Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama has taped a radio commercial on behalf of U.S. Rep. John Barrow of Savannah, who faces a July 15 primary challenge.

It’s the first case of Obama involving himself in a local race in Georgia. . . But the Obama campaign made clear to my colleague Aaron Sheinin that it sees Barrow, a two-term Democrat, as an important ally. .
. .

“Senator Obama believes that Congressman Barrow has worked hard to bring change that families in his district deserve, and we’ll work hard to help John Barrow win in November,” Obama spokeswoman Amy Brundage said.

*spit-take* WHAT THE FUCK?

Unless Obama has some unbelievable insider information, he’s talking out of his ass. What fucking change? What about John Barrow isn’t symptomatic of terminal DCitis? Why the fuck do you want to support a stupid motherfucking Democrat who supports George Fucking Bush?

It’s the first time in a long time he’s disappointed me, and I’m willing to forgive – a bit – but not forget, and I shall not let this pass. He’s got ‘splaining to do. But he can start by winning back my respect, and he should have to work for yours, too.

You see, we don’t have a single indication that he’s going to lift a finger to do jack shit about the FISA bill that’s coming up. It’s time to give him a right kick in the arse to let him know the base isn’t interested in trading civil liberties for supposed “security.” Right and left, liberal and conservative, we have one point we agree on: we don’t want the government listening in on our conversations without a fucking warrant, and we don’t want the telecoms that enabled such illegal spying to get off with a note from the President saying it’s okay to break the law if big daddy tells you to.

Let Obama know these things.

Send him an email. Hell, send him two: here’s his Senate contact, and here’s his campaign contact. His Senate form, unlike some others I’ve encountered, doesn’t tell you to fuck off because you’re not from Illinois, by the way.

Then give him a phone call. Tell him you would like him to oppose FISA: 1-866-675-2008, option 6. Quick and painless – his staff is sweet as pie, and they don’t ask a lot of pesky questions, they just note down your position.

Let him know you’re not happy with him supporting a Bush dog Democrat, either. Let’s make it clear that real change means sweeping out the Republicon enablers and clearing the way for a progressive majority, shall we?

More on this later, if the rat bastards in D.C. don’t sneak FISA through today. Now, my cramps and I are really headed to bed. You can join me and Cujo359 in a different bed by cozying up with the Strange Bedfellows, here.

Let’s make the earth move. Or at least make the powers-that-be in D.C. wonder what magnitude earthquake just hit ’em….

Update: You can send an email to your Congresscritter & Senators here. You can even rip off my email, if you like:

Dear [Elected officia]:

Bush and his enablers are at it again. They’re trying to get a new FISA bill through that contains all of the immunity for telecoms and vast spying powers they ever wanted.

I’m relying on you to take a stand against this.

No more talk of immunity. No more warrantless eavesdropping powers. NO MORE.

Since news of this broke, Strange Bedfellows, a coalition of bloggers, activists and concerned citizens from all across the political spectrum, has generated almost $200,000 in donations to combat this latest attempt to slip sweeping new powers and immunities into law. I think this tells you just how passionate folks are about their civil liberties, and how incensed they are that those liberties have been repeatedly threatened by this odious legislation.

Stand strong. I know you’ll protect our civil liberties. I know we can count on you.


Call Obama

What's the Harm? So Glad You Asked

I’m fast losing my tolerance for woo of all forms. Look – psychics, tarot readers, feng shui, and all that rot’s not a bad or evil thing as long as it’s just entertainment, but when people forget it’s simply a bit of fun and start taking it this fucking seriously, there’s a problem:

Colleen Leduc has an autistic child named Victoria who is enrolled in a public school. She recently got a terrifying phone call — her daughter was being sexually abused. We parents know well the fear and worry a threat to our children can cause, and Leduc was receiving an urgent, frantic phone call from school officials telling her that her daughter was being victimized in the worst way.

So she rushes in to this little meeting.

“The teacher looked and me and said: ‘We have to tell you something. The educational assistant who works with Victoria went to see a psychic last night, and the psychic asked the educational assistant at that particular time if she works with a little girl by the name of “V.” And she said ‘yes, I do.’ And she said, ‘well, you need to know that that child is being sexually abused by a man between the ages of 23 and 26.'”

Before you ask, there is 0 proof this psychic was even within the ballpark. Victoria’s never been sexually abused. There are no men with access to her in that age range. There is nothing. The psychic was pulling this shit right out of her ass.

I have friends who go to psychics. I have friends who are mightily impressed by what the psychics tell them. And usually it’s seemed like a little bit o’ harmless fun, and everybody has a good time, and the fact that the psychic was completely fucking wrong, or was only right because their information was so broad it could be interpreted any way you like, doesn’t seem important because, well, everybody enjoyed themselves.

But this is a slippery slope. Because the psychic may be a good cold reader, or may know the person well enough to work some elements of truth into the bullshit, and a coincidence or two might happen, and people start to want to really believe, and the next thing you know, you have shit like this happening.

And these psychics see nothing wrong, because they believe they have special powers. They’ve selectively remembered the bits that reflect well on their predictive ability, and forgotten all the misses where they were so wrong they couldn’t see right on a clear day with a telescope. The people around them have the same selective memory, which reinforces their faith in their powers. And you know what this psychic’s probably saying to herself right now? Not “I was wrong, and I’ve just destroyed this family.” Not “I was wrong and I caused a mother to go through hell.” No, she’s likely saying, “They just haven’t found the proof. After all, I knew that my client worked with a little girl named V! It’s obvious I was right about everything! I have the power!”

No. You really don’t.

And if we don’t start teaching people to think critically, evaluate evidence dispassionately, and temper emotion with reason, we’re going to have a lot more bullshit like this. We’ll have a world wherein a teacher can get fired for being a wizard and a mom and daughter can have their lives turned upside-down because some silly git went to a psychic who strayed out of “tall, dark and handsome” territory.

That’s not the world I want, thanks ever so much.

Think, people.

What's the Harm? So Glad You Asked